Wouldn’t it be great if the simple act of walking could lengthen your life, make you healthier and even make you look better? The good news is this: practically every medical expert says that the single best exercise for people of all ages and abilities is walking.
The really good news is that a wealth of new scientific research has discovered that walking does much more for us than make us a bit healthier. It actually can make us live longer, help relieve dozens of physical ailments, boost weight loss for those who need to drop a few (or more than a few) pounds, and enhance our psychological well-being.
Better Than Running?
After decades as a marathon and ultra-distance runner, I decided to hang up my Nikes shortly after reaching my 58th birthday. The endless miles were beginning to take a toll on my mind, and were no longer the joy they once were. I had always enjoyed my between-race recovery walks so much that I decided to look into walking as a main form of exercise.
What I discovered was a pleasant surprise, and within a few months I was again looking forward to heading out the door each day. As a newly-minted walking enthusiast, I haven’t had a single regret about exchanging fast miles for slower ones. There’s a lot to be said for a slower pace, enjoying the scenery, and not being obsessed with speed and distance.
The most interesting part of my research on walking was the medical aspect. Below are a few of the ways walking can enhance and lengthen your life. The information is culled from various medical sites and books on the subject. For millions of people over 40, and even for a lot of younger folks, walking really is “the new running.”
How Walking Can Make Your Life Better and Longer
Run, Don’t Walk, To Find These Walking Books
After reading every running book on the market, my switch to walking opened up a whole new world of research and learning. Two books helped a lot. One is a multi-use volume by Dr. S. Don Kim, called “Walking Cure: 9 Week Walking Program to Overcome Obesity, Back Pain, Diabetes, Hypertension, Depression, Insomnia, Stress, Emotional Trauma and Spiritual Misalignment.” The good doctor outlines various walking programs for all ages, and goes into the details about how walking can combat just about any health problem.
Kim’s book makes an ideal reference work. Besides the basic data on the benefits of walking, he delineates dozens of diseases and maladies that walking can address. So even if you aren’t interested in the section on hypertension right now, the day may come when you want to show it to a friend who is in need of a life-changing exercise routine.
The other walking book that served me well was Nina Barough’s “Walking for Fitness.” Barough covers all the bases for walkers who want to know how to design a program for their specific needs. Beginners and those new to walking, like I was, will enjoy the non-technical language and the many different programs in the book. “Walking for Fitness” is, in my opinion, one of the very best books for new walking enthusiasts.
A Step in the Right Direction
Even if you are “converting” to walking from some other sport, it’s always a smart idea to have a medical checkup. For people who are relatively inactive and who want to begin a walking program, a visit to the doctor is a necessity.
If you take up walking as a casual practitioner or a dedicated enthusiast, leave a comment below and tell us about your own journey into the amazing, life-changing, healthful world of walking. And feel free to visit our Facebook page to share some of your own walking and exercise stories. We’d love to hear them.